March 27, 2010

Why I Will Not Follow My Heart...

Hello Blogosphere, a.k.a. any of the 20 people who may read this :).  I've been out of town, but nevertheless the wheels in my head have been turning and the contemplative cockles of my heart have not been idle.  I've experienced a good long run of contentment and strength, something that has encouraged me more than I ever thought possible.  That long run has come to a standstill.  Recently I've been struggling with the topic of worth; specifically, my worth.

My name means "worthy of love," but recently, I haven't been so sure.  During college, when my faith grew and I learned more about the God I serve and my relationship with Him, I realized the following nuggets of truth: I have been created in the image of God, and because of that I have worth.  I am not worthy of God's love, because I have rebelled against His Word.  Even so, God loves me, His creation.  Because He loves me, I have worth.  Christ died to save me from my rebellious nature, and because I believe and follow that truth, I receive the full benefits of His love, including eternal life in heaven one day. 

Unfortunately, my heart of hearts believes that I am worthy of love, and because I do not have the love of a man, I must not have worth.  My head knows this is not true.  I know those nuggets of truth you just read-- I know my family loves me, I know God loves me, and I know that my worth must be found in Christ alone.  My heart wrestles with this, and I would venture to say that many other single women struggle with this very issue.  We know the truth about our worth, but choosing to believe it is an entirely enormous feat.  When we read silly books and watch silly movies and TV shows and even walk in the silly mall, we see "evidence" that we are worthless.  Our hearts tell us that if we had worth, a man would find us valuable-- so valuable that he would want us above all others and treasure us forever.  Our hearts tell us that until a man loves us, we are just formless rock, so unlike the diamond who is loved.  Our hearts tell us that if we had worth, men would call us to talk to us, desire to spend time with us, and choose us over other things they value.

The problem is this: the Bible makes it clear that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  So it doesn't matter what my heart tells me-- if what my heart tells me goes against the truth nuggets I've learned from the Word, it's not true.  The Bible also tells me that I should be thinking about whatever is true, not whatever my heart tells me.  So, contrary to pop culture, I will not "follow my heart."  Because my heart tells me that I am worthless simply because I'm not loved by a man.  The truth is, I'm not worthless.  I'm not worthy of God's love, but He gives it to me.  And because He chooses to love me, I have worth, worth greater than that which can be gained by the love of a man.

March 14, 2010

Save the Hero...

I'd like you to read the following lyrics to "Save the Hero," by Beyonce.  THEN I will give you my two cents worth of information (alright, by now you know my verbosity will probably give you two dollars worth of information).

"I lay alone awake at night
Sorrow fills my eyes
But I’m not strong enough to cry
Despite of my disguise
I’m left with no shoulder
But everybody wants to lean on me.
I guess I’m their soldier.
Well, who’s gonna be mine

Who’s there to save the hero
When she’s left all alone
And she’s crying out for help.
Who’s there to save the hero
Who’s there to save the girl…
After she saves the world
After she saves the world.

I bottle all my hurt inside,
I guess I’m living a lie.
Inside my mind each day I die
What can bring me back to life?
A simple word, a gesture
Someone to say you’re beautiful
Come find this buried treasure
Rainbows lead to a pot of gold.

Who’s there to save the hero
When she’s left all alone
And she’s crying out for help
Who’s there to save the hero
Who’s there to save the girl
After she saves the world…
After she saves the world.

I’ve given too much of myself
And now it’s driving me crazy
(I’m crying out for help?
Sometimes I wish someone would
Just come here and save me…
Save me from myself

Who’s there to save the hero
When she’s left all alone
And she’s crying out for help
Who’s there to save the hero
Who’s there to save the girl
After she saves the world…
After she saves the world."

 The first time I really listened to this song, it resonated deep within me.  Of course, I don't see myself as a hero of any kind, but the lyrics so accurately portray the loneliness of singleness that it gave me pause.  And then I realized, I don't have the luxury of thinking this way anymore.

This song is the way old Amanda used to think.  Self-pitying Amanda would ask herself whose shoulder she could lean on after being the soldier for so many.  It's easy to feel this way, and easy to stay thinking this way.  I'd even go so far as to say it feels good, in a backwards, self-indulgent kind of way of one who takes a twisted pride in her plights.

And then I became aware of how self-pitying and selfish these thoughts were; with that realization, I lost the "luxury" of wallowing in self-pity.  Now I simply know this kind of thinking is not right, and I immediately have to cut off those thoughts when they begin.  You think I exaggerate?  No indeed.  The moment I start thinking, Poor me, I'm all alone.  Whom can I lean on?  Where's my hero?  I have no one.  I'm alone, I literally tell myself to shut up, because when I coddle myself and tell myself those thoughts are okay, I allow myself to travel down a road that no one should go down, a road well-traveled by singles throughout the years.

So, this song resonates deeply with my old self and my tendencies today.  This song is accurate, but not the whole picture.  I think it accurately describes the feelings of many strong, single women... yet when it asks who will save the girl after she saves the world, it doesn't take into consideration the One who has saved me and completed me, the One who is my Rock and Fortress, and ever-present Help in times of trouble.  The One who never leaves me or forsakes me.  The One for whom I live and breathe is more than enough, and I am thankful to say that this song no longer accurately portrays my day-to-day life.  Though I struggle, my thinking has changed.  To God be the glory.

March 9, 2010

Likes Sands Through the Hourglass...

I'm just going to warn you now that this post is a little odd and emotional.  What can I say-- I've been a little "off" in my blogging as of late.  Probably because I feel just a little "off."  Even so, this is what's on my mind.

I long nostalgically for my childhood with the same feeling I get when one of my favorite somethings is running out.  When I know that, say, my favorite perfume is running low and I can't replace it, I get this melancholy feeling of inevitability that makes me savor every last spray.

I get this same feeling when I look at old family photos or watch my parents' old movies.  I used to worry about the fact that I had this weird sadness while watching their bizarre and hilarious movies.  They were fantastic, but the pit of my stomach would wrench a little, feeling like it's all... running out, like the last sprays of my favorite perfume.  I'd think, If they were that young once, how did they get older so fast, and how fast will the rest go?

Looking back on my childhood, I remember the "feel" of it all-- the comfort of home, the security of family, the hilarity of memories, and the joy of youth.  When I'd get that odd wrenching in my stomach, I used to think that it was regret I felt, regret about the way I treated my parents and brother and regret for what I had and hadn't done.  Maybe that's part of it, but I think more than anything I look back at all the time I had ahead of me, the time I spent with my family, and the opportunities I experienced, and what I feel is a wish for more.  I wish for more time with my family, more daily interaction with my parents and brother, more growing time and learning time in that house.  But I grew up.  I left that house.  It's going too fast, and it's all... running out.  Even now I type with tears-- hard to explain, but very, very real.

This is a feeling I wrestle with, but I couldn't quite pinpoint it until this afternoon, driving home from work.  Side note: what is it about that short drive home that causes me to think so deeply?  The sudden absence of adolescents?  The sudden freedom?  Regardless, I realized today the reason for my nostalgic melancholy... and I found the silver lining, too.

While it's true that time flies and it is all running out, that which is running out (time with loved ones, memories to make, lessons to learn) will exist in endless supply someday in heaven.  The good, enduring things I love about this life and the people in it will continue in heaven, only with a surefire God-focus.  Earthly time is running out, but my eternal life is waiting.  I've got something to look forward to. 

March 5, 2010

Things I Love About Little Women...

By "Little Women," I mean Little Women the book and movies, not... short women, though I probably love some things about short women as well.  At any rate, much to my students' chagrin, I have forced them to watch Little Women over the last couple of days (hey, if I'm going to show a movie, I'm going to make sure it has some kind of literary merit).  I also recently had the pleasure of watching a friend play Jo in the musical adaptation of the novel.  Clearly, Little Women has been on my mind, and I've realized there are some things I absolutlely love about that story.  Forgive me, as this doesn't have much to do with my single life, or my struggles.  It's just the thoughts of an English teacher who loses herself in literature.

I love:
1.  Jo March.  She is loud, independent, stubborn, strong, creative, funny, friendly, idealistic, a dreamer, and a writer.  She loves her sisters so much that she bucks against change, especially when men are involved in stealing them away.  She wants to see the world.  She doesn't accept "good enough."  She lives life to its fullest and loves with all her heart.  She is fantastic.

2.  The friendship between Laurie and Jo.  It's funny how Louisa May Alcott answered the very question Harry and Sally asked, only more than a hundred years prior: no, men and women cannot be close friends, because inevitably one or the other will develop feelings.  Their friendship is sweet and true, but it ends up at that awkward moment that many similar friendships experience.  And Jo doesn't settle, as much as she loves him as a friend.  I love that courage.

3.  The deep sisterhood of the March girls.  They fight, they bicker, they play, they learn, and they love.  They are each other's greatest allies and greatest champions.  Jo wants them to stay forever as they are, close and inseparable.  Having no sisters of my own, I couldn't comprehend this... until my two sisters came along in college, and I rememember similar feelings of closeness and contentedness in the camraderie of my sisters... and I hoped it would never change; when it did, as it always does, I fought against it.

4.  Their creativity.  The March girls put on plays, providing themselves with endless hours of entertainment, something that most children couldn't do today if they tried.  The most wonderful things come from the imagination, and they capture it perfectly.

5.  Jo's unexpected match.  Everyone thought Jo wouldn't get married-- even she didn't think so.  And yet, she found her match in an unexpected person, but it was perfect in every way-- someone who could keep up intellectually, challenge her, and handle her independence.  That's so encouraging, even if it is fictitious.

So this, my last post as a twenty-five-year-old, has no deep meaning, no real moral, except to show that two decades later, this girl loses herself in literature as much as she did in her youth.  As I inch my way toward thirty, I hope I lose myself still, in the pages penned for imaginations like mine.